Thursday, November 26, 2009
India presses for closer US ties
The Indian prime minister has called for stronger economic ties with the US.
Manmohan Singh opened his four-day US visit on Monday by meeting business leaders in Washington DC, saying they were crucial to building ties between the two countries.
"A strategic relationship that is not underpinned by a strong economic relationship is unlikely to prosper," he said on the eve of talks with Barack Obama, the US president.
Singh urged the business leaders to "stay engaged as we transform India from a low-income country into a vibrant market of over a billion people with steadily growing purchasing power".
"We need massive investment in energy, transport and urban infrastructure to be able to support a high rate of economic growth," Singh told the US Chamber of Commerce and the US-India Business Council luncheon.
Singh said he and Obama would sign accords on energy security, clean energy and climate change to deepen co-operation underpinned by strong economic ties.
"Pakistan has nothing to fear from India. It's a tragedy that Pakistan has come to the point of using terror as an instrument of state policy"
India's prime minister
India and the US have been at sharp odds on climate change ahead of next month's climate summit in Copenhagen, with each country seeking further commitments by the other.
Commenting on the state visit, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said India's location in a very important region of the world "demonstrates the importance that that relationship has in the world".
The US sees India as crucial to the US-led fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as a counterweight to China's influence in the region and as key to efforts to settle world trade and climate change deals.
But some in New Delhi feel that Obama has given priority to some of India's rivals, particularly in funding the Pakistan's military in its fight against Taliban loyalists in the country's northwest.
Speaking to The Washington Post and Newsweek ahead of his arrival, Singh said it was important for US forces to remain in Afghanistan and called on Obama to press Pakistan to rein in what it called a "state policy" of terror.
Manmohan Singh, left, is scheduled to meet Obama on Tuesday [GALLO/GETTY]
"We have been the victims of Pakistan-aided, abetted and inspired terrorism for nearly 25 years. We would like the United States to use all its influence with Pakistan to desist from that path," he said in the interview.
"Pakistan has nothing to fear from India. It's a tragedy that Pakistan has come to the point of using terror as an instrument of state policy."
While Pakistan has acknowledged that armed groups have operated from its soil, it denies they are acting on behalf of the state.
Singh said he hoped Obama would complete an accord championed by George Bush, the former US president, to end India's decades-long pariah status on civilian nuclear energy markets.
Both houses of the US congress have approved resolutions welcoming Singh and calling for greater co-operation with India.
The unanimity symbolised a change from just a few years ago, when some legislators fought the nuclear deal because of India's refusal to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty.